Friday, September 4, 2015

Cape Cod Lawn

There is an iconic image of children rolling down grassy hills and sitting in lush fields of green. Cape Cod doesn't have large open spaces and fields of grass. There are some, of course. Golf courses, manicured government maintained yards outside public buildings, and some private yards doted on by grass-loving-expensive-sprinkler-system-buying people. But in my humble opinion, based on my experience growing up in the working class blue collar Cape Cod community, what most people have is what I call a Cape Cod lawn. Here's an example.
This is a section of my back yard. There are several species of grass out there, none of which arrived due to intelligent design or intention.  It grows without our involvement. only gaining out attention when it becomes tall enough to require the lawn mower. It doesn't grow all that fast or well, because Cape Cod is sandy, and we don't get a lot of rain. So some species turn brown, while others flourish and are bright and green well past the summer months. And it's all patched together in a crazy quilt of nature akin to what a blind person might create if given quilting materials without any instruction.

I love my yard. I love the weird little blank patches where it's sandy. I love the tall green grass growing next to the stubby darker colored patches. I even love the dried brown stuff. Every spring I go about the chore of trying to fight back the wisteria that is insidiously invading from the other side of the fence. I also make an attempt to remove the millions of lucust tree roots that criss-cross the yard. When successful, long thin lines of collapsed section appear in the yard where the thick roots were wrenched out of the ground by a swearing person (I could make a trucker blush when properly irritated). I make a halfhearted attempt to close in the gaps, but not really, so the yard is uneven and ends up with more and more little patches of empty sand spots. But I hate locust trees with a passion, and the chipmunks and squirrels seem to enjoy the obstacle course that is my yard.

Like most of New England, Cape Cod is an intricate weave of meandering roads that make no sense and are not for the faint of heart or easily confused. Most yards are smaller, due to the limited space. I'm used to having a short view of my surroundings, disrupted quickly by scrub pine, lucust, and struggling oak trees. Most roads are so narrow you can't pass a biker unless the other side of the road is clear. The houses are right up against the roads, with very few of them set back. There isn't room to set them back in most cases. Too many things crammed into a skinny little space.

I discovered something when I traveled to Arizona and Colorado. It was beautiful there, and I'd love to visit again, but I found the large open spaces very disconcerting. What I found the most difficult was the order and simplicity in the roads. They made sense. Plots were square. There was intelligent design. And it freaked me out. I require twisting roads that change names three times for no reason, stop for a half mile to become something else, then resume, and four way stops that are really six way that might as well have signs saying "Close your eyes, floor it and hope" rather than "Stop." I like that Cape Cod yards go right up to the roads. Planned communities are so alien to me, they make me uncomfortable. I like chaos, which is probably why I love my Cape Cod yard.

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